Your income tax documents will soon be arriving and it will be time for your tax preparation to start. Here are some tips to make the process of preparing your income tax return easier and to get the best value from your tax preparer.
In considering these tips one overriding fact to bear in mind is that your tax preparer will be able to give better and more comprehensive tax advice the more information and documents you can get ready before seeing them. Also your fees may be lower depending how your tax preparer charges for their services.
- Be Patient –We all want to get our tax refund quickly but some of your tax documents may take awhile to arrive. Most forms will arrive around about January 31 but as you will see below some may not arrive until early April.
- Tax Organizer –If your tax preparer has a tax organizer fill in as much of it as you can. It will remind you of items to claim that you may not have considered. Our tax organizer is downloadable and can be filled in on screen. It can then be saved and uploaded to our secure client portal saving you time and paper.
- Salaries & Wages – You will need a W-2 for each job you had in the tax year. If you moved during the tax year make sure that your current and former employers know your latest address.
- Business Income – If you run a business you will need to bring your records up to date and have them finalized for the tax year. If your tax preparer, like us, also does accounting work you can ask them to do that for you. Depending on your business structure you may also have business tax returns to prepare such as a partnership tax return or corporate tax return. If somebody else looks after the books you may get a Schedule K-1 from them showing the business income. This may not turn up until early April as it does not need to be issued until April 15.
- Retirement Income – For your retirement income look out for forms 1099-R, 5498 and SSA-1099.
- Investment Income – For your interest income look out for 1099-INT. This will only be issued if the interest income was more than $10 for an account. So, for any interest less than that go through your bank statements and add up the interest for the year. For dividend income you will be looking out for 1099-DIV and for sales of stock 1099-B. The 1099-B is not due until February 15 and most brokers have an automatic 30 day extension. So you may not see these forms until well in to the tax filing season.
- Deductions and Tax Credits- Make sure that you maximize your deductions and tax credits so that you get the best tax refund or least amount of tax payable. Go through your bank records, receipts and any tax forms and schedule them out so that your tax preparer can get the best tax position for you. Some items to consider are:-
- Mortgage Interest – You will get a 1098 from your mortgage company showing the interest paid in the tax year.
- Real Estate Taxes Paid – This will often be shown on your mortgage interest 1098. If it isn’t many local municipalities allow you to download details of the taxes paid from their web site.
- Medical Expenses – For any medical expenses not covered by insurance, FSA or HSA add them up for the year. Include all doctor visits, dental treatment, prescriptions and eye wear. Also don’t forget to record your mileage for medical journeys.
- Charity Donations – Collect together all the receipts you have for cash or non-cash donations. To claim these you will at a minimum need a bank or cash record for the donation.
- Work Related Expenses – If your employer did not reimburse you for work related expenses you may be able to claim them. Total up mileage for business journeys, hotel expenses, business meal and entertainment expenses, tools and training expenses.
- Child Care Costs – If you paid somebody to look after your children whilst you worked you may be able to get a credit for the expenses. Get a receipt from the child care provider showing their name, address, tax identification number and amount you paid in the tax year.
- Education Credits – If you or your children went to college during the year there may be some beneficial education credits to claim for the tution fees. Most colleges send out a 1098-T showing these costs. However these statements are often not very accurate so download a copy of your account from the college so that your tax preparer can maximize the education credit claim.
This gives you some ideas of the information to collect that will make your tax preparation experience as pain free as possible.
Once you have all your tax documents and information together call us on (480) 363-4808 to book an appointment to prepare your tax return. If you live in the Phoenix area we will come to you to prepare your income tax return. If you live outside of Phoenix or Arizona we can prepare the return using information you upload to our secure client portal or mail to us. We look forward to helping you prepare your income tax return.
Disclaimer – This article does not constitute personal tax advice to the reader and is only offering general information. You should seek professional advice for your own situation as the most appropriate tax planning depends on your personal and unique circumstances.
Posted By Mark Smith
Mark Smith, EA is an Enrolled Agent and accountant with over 30 years tax and accounting experience. He is the owner of Cranmere Accounting and Tax Services LLC. He can be contacted on (480) 363-4808 or by email at email@example.com if you need assistance with any of the above.